BusinessEurope Headlines No. 2020-21
In responding to the China challenge, Europe needs to bolster its market economy
“The consolidation of China’s state-led economy and the resulting market distortions present a challenge to Europe that we can only address through a whole-of-government approach in which the EU takes steps bilaterally, multilaterally, and unilaterally”, Luisa Santos, Deputy Director General said during a presentation of BusinessEurope’s China strategy for members of the Spanish Confederation of Employers’ Associations (CEOE). Xania Mendez, Secretary of State for Trade in the Spanish government, also participated in the event. She pointed out that “BusinessEurope’s strategy is a highly valuable contribution to the ongoing debate in Europe and in Spain on how to pursue the opportunities in our bilateral relationship while tackling the challenges this presents”. The regression in market reforms in China in recent years have generated a renewed sense of urgency among European businesses that Europe cannot wait and hope for China to take further steps towards market reform. China’s large and growing share of global GDP together with increasing market distortions means that the impact on European business will grow. “Besides engaging China as well as likeminded countries, the EU and its Member States need to take bold steps to strengthen market based governance in Europe. We need to create rules and instruments that improve the level playing field, mitigate market distortions, enhance our competitiveness, and ensure fair competition and cooperation in third markets”, Santos concluded.
Contact: Maurice Fermont
COVID-19: an opportunity to reassess our trade agenda
“We have been talking a lot about the disruption COVID-19 creates in global supply chains and trade. But this crisis should also be an opportunity to reassess the EU’s trade agenda", said Luisa Santos, Deputy Director General at BusinessEurope, at the event “Navigating global tides in the COVID-19 storm”, organised by Cambre associates on 4 June. As an example, she said we should promote further trade liberalisation in the healthcare sector or define global rules that are more conducive to e-commerce and digital trade. "Trade patterns might be changing due to this health and economic crisis and we need to ensure that we have the right policies to support this shift. This needs to be a joint effort from the public and private sectors and we are looking forward to providing our views on the incoming revisions of the EU’s trade strategy”, Santos added. She explained this should be also an opportunity to speak more clearly and concretely about the benefits of trade. It is also needed to make trade more concrete for companies and citizens. For instance, by explaining better at national and regional levels how companies can benefit from existing trade agreements. Showing as well to citizens that trade is much more than simply strengthening economic ties but it is also a tool to promote climate and social goals. "A trade agreement is an enabling tool that establishes the right framework for a close dialogue and cooperation with our trading partners”, Santos concluded.
Contact: Luisa Santos
Shaping Europe’s digital future
BusinessEurope has sent a letter to the EU Telecom Council in advance of its meeting taking place on 5 June. This recognises the importance that Europe’s digital capacity has played throughout the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and as a result outlines our broad positioning on key long-term elements of the European Commission’s overarching digital plan. Indeed, the crisis has shown the importance of data sharing between entities. We agree that the incoming data sharing and governance initiative should therefore incentivise more data sharing between businesses across many sectors in order to fully capitalise on the exponential growth of the global data economy. At the same time, consumers have shown a growing importance they place on trust in relation to the technologies they are willing to use. We agree that taking a risk-based approach to Artificial Intelligence (AI) policy making should strike safeguard trust while finding the correct balance to foster innovation excellence in AI. A critical technological area where Europe finds itself lagging. The crisis also demonstrated the reliance consumers have on digital services in order to live at distance. While the envisaged Digital Services Act has the ability to make the online economy a safer and more fair place for both consumers and businesses alike, an update in this area must recognise the variety of players in this ecosystem and other frameworks that already apply to it.
Contact: Patrick Grant
Image copyright: © Oporteo
Business priorities on EU Africa policy
“Economic Partnership Agreements are key instruments for the EU and Africa to deepen their economic relations. They must be used as building blocs for continental free trade,” said Benedikt Wiedenhofer, Adviser for International Relations at BusinessEurope, at a webinar on 29 May on European external financing instruments and Economic Partnership Agreements. The event was organised by the German business representation BDI and the German development agency GIZ. Wiedenhofer presented the priorities of BusinessEurope on the EU’s policies towards Africa and informed participants of BusinessEurope’s upcoming initiatives and position papers in this area. “The EU’s external financing instruments will also play an increasingly important role in bringing our continents closer and I would like to invite companies to contribute to our position paper on this issue”, he added.
Contact: Benedikt Wiedenhofer
Rushing collective redress will not help to get it right
Following reports that the Croatian Presidency intends to discuss this week with Member States a European Commission compromise text in the hope of reaching a swift trilogue agreement on the representative actions proposal, 19 European Business organisations, including BusinessEurope, have issued a joint statement. Although trilogue parties have not met - even at technical level - for several months, there seems to be pressure to rush into an agreement. Doing so will undoubtedly lead to a situation in which the many complexities of this proposal will not be adequately considered, and will result in defective legislation and greater chances of unintended consequences. The European business community is urging decision-makers to take due time and prioritise quality over expediency.
Contact: Pedro Oliveira
Harmonised standards - what is at stake?
"For years the EU system of harmonised standards was the best in class, but we have been drifting away from that. A change of the legal paradigm is problematic and costly for companies, but the strategic uncertainty we are faced with now is likely even worse", said Paul Coebergh van den Braak, Chair of BusinessEurope's Free Movement of Goods Working Group, at a panel organised by Orgalim on 2 June. Industry has experienced prolonged problems with the governance of harmonised standards in the Single Market. The Orgalim event illustrated the practical consequences of this issue, which is gaining traction in Brussels. Coebergh van den Braak explained how standards add value for companies and help them to enhance their competitiveness. "We should not forget that regulatory requirements are just one element of a harmonised standard", he highlighted, adding that standards mainly offer technical solutions to engineers.
Contact: Basje Bender
SMEs strategy discussed with EESC
“The European Commission’s SME strategy presented in March focused on the right policy areas, but now more than ever, since the outbreak of COVID-19, its implementation has to play a key role to support SMEs. While the sustainable and digital Europe objectives should be maintained, efforts should be made to prioritise areas that could benefit SMEs in the short/medium term”, stated Daniele Olivieri, BusinessEurope’s Senior Adviser for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, during an online hearing on 3 June organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). He added that the focus should primarily be on access to finance and simplified and swift access to the various EU programmes in support of SMEs, on maintaining a functioning Single Market, on reducing barriers when exporting beyond the EU, on a fit-for-purpose regulatory framework.
Contact: Daniele Olivieri
Businesses from around the world discuss intellectual property projects
European, American, Japanese, Korean and Chinese patent users' representatives (BusinessEurope from the European side) held virtual meetings on May 20 and 28 to discuss issues related to the harmonisation of patent office procedures. Industry representatives expressed their support for the Five Intellectual Property (IP5) Offices’ joint-projects intended to ensure more cost-effective processes and reduce administrative burdens for users. In particular, they discussed the proposal on a global assignment and on the harmonisation of claims and drawings in patent applications. Industry also exchanged their views on a draft scoping document on artificial intelligence and patent law and procedures. Industry's inputs will be shared with the Heads of IP5 Offices ahead of their virtual annual meeting in June.
Contact: Elena Bertolotto
Minimise disruption risk for on-line card payments
BusinessEurope Director General Markus J. Beyrer wrote to the European Banking Authority about the implementation of the Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) requirements of the Payments Services Directive (PSD2) for online card payments. BusinessEurope supports granting an extension to the December 2020 deadline to allow more time for the industry to prepare for SCA. This would help prevent disruption in online payments and would allow participants in the payment chain get ready to use these new requirements and focus on their Covid-19 response.
Contact: Erik Berggren
- 5 June: BusinessEurope Council of Presidents
- 11 June: Webinar: How to find a business partner in Canada
- 22-26 June: EU Sustainable Energy Week 2020
- 9-10 September: 8th International Conference on Sustainable Development